Michael Link MP, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (26 June) on the EU General Affairs Council’s decision to open negotiations on EU accession with Montenegro:
“I welcome the fact that we have today decided to commence accession negotiations with Montenegro.
Today’s decision sends an important message to the entire region: The European Union lives up to its promises. The countries of the Western Balkans have a clear and realistic prospect of joining the EU. It is up to them to realize this aim by their own efforts. This European perspective is a key contributory factor to achieving stability in the Western Balkans.
I am delighted that progress has been made thanks to the reforms begun by the Lukšić Government and call on the Government to tackle the additional necessary reforms with verve and determination, in order to make further advances towards accession. In Montenegro, further progress is needed in the fields of freedom of the press, the rule of law, and combating corruption and organized crime. The accession negotiations will therefore start with the difficult chapter on justice and home affairs. This decision shows that the EU has drawn the right conclusions from previous enlargements, i.e. that the difficult chapters must be the first to be tackled in any accession negotiations.”